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April 8, 2013

Google Looking to Buy WhatsApp for $1B: Rumor

Google is ready to shell out $1 billion to acquire cross-platform messaging application WhatsApp, according to a news report.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations told Digital Trends the technology giant is in the final phase of negotiations with the popular app.

The talks have been going for “four or five weeks” and WhatsApp has been “playing hardball” to push the purchase price as high as possible, the source said.

WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that enables users, for a “small subscription fee,” to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. It is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.

“Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same Internet data plan that you use for e-mail and Web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends,” reads the website. “In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages.”

WhatsApp screenshot

WhatsApp screenshot

WhatsApp screenshot

WhatsApp screenshot

Although the company has never released its user base estimate, it is believed to be more than 300 million.  According to Design Trend, Whatsapp is especially popular in Europe and South America. In fact, 80 percent of Smartphone users in Brazil, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany use the app.

WhatsApp announced Jan. 2 that it had set a record on New Year’s Eve with seven billion inbound messages and 11 million outbound messages. The 18 million total smashed its prior one-day record of 10 million messages.

While WhatsApp continues to grow in popularity, it is being debated if the start-up is actually worth $1 billion.

It may well be if Google is using the Facebook-Instagram deal as an example.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg forked over $1 billion for Instagram last year, a mobile-only photo-sharing app that, at the time of the deal, had only 30 million users compared to WhatsApp’s suspected 300 million. Within six months, however, Instagram was boasting 100 million users.

It is possible a Google acquisition would also boost user numbers for WhatsApp.